Holy Cross Elementary principal looks back on 50 years of service

Holy Cross Elementary Principal Mamie Bergeron holds a plaque made of Holy Cross uniforms from two different eras given to her by students celebrating her retirement after a 50-year career in Catholic education. Parents, grandparents, alumni, former students and friends are invited to attend a retirement celebration in Bergeron’s honor Wednesday, beginning with Mass at 8:30 a.m. at Holy Cross Catholic Church and a reception following until 12:30 p.m. at the Yvonne Anne Adams Life Center on the campus of the school.
(The Daily Review Photo by Jean L. McCorkle)

Fifty years in any industry is a personal achievement. Marking 50 years as an educator is a landmark event for a community, a milestone Mamie Bergeron attains this year as she bids farewell to Holy Cross Elementary.
Bergeron began her career as a teacher in 1964 and became principal of the school a decade later. Now, after 40 years as a principal, she’s overseen the education of the children and grandchildren of her former students.
She’s seen the school through the change from Maronite nuns to lay personnel as teachers, mimeograph machines to copiers, the use of hand bells and the advent of computers. She also kept the school running despite a devastating fire in 1999, 18 months of subsequent reconstruction and sheltered 75 refugee students from Hurricane Katrina in 2005.
“I’ve been from the blackboard to the Promethean board,” Bergeron said. “I think technology has changed some of our techniques (for educating). I think the children still have needs, and we have to do our best to find ways to meet those needs. They’ll always have those needs.”
She’s seen that the more children change, the more they stay the same.
“I think every generation has its own characteristics, and that we, as educators, have to find ways to match those characteristics with techniques to help them.”
Bergeron attended elementary and high school at Sacred Heart in Morgan City and says her upbringing brought her to Holy Cross as an adult.
“I grew up in Catholic education and somehow or other, I knew I always wanted to come back into the system. I loved the Maronite sisters. My parents were very involved in Catholic education.”
She holds a bachelor’s degree in elementary education from the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, and two master’s degrees in religious studies from Loyola University in New Orleans and in administration from ULL.
Among numerous awards and recognitions she’s received over the years are the Bishop’s Medal in 1984; the Papal medal Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice, the highest Papal award given to lay people, in 1999; induction into the Hall of Fame of the Central Catholic High School Alumni Association in 1998; and a wing of Holy Cross Elementary was dedicated in her honor in 1999.
Bergeron was named the National Catholic Department of Elementary Schools Distinguished Principal for 2002 for Region 5, encompassing Alabama, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi and Tennessee.
Fifty years is “a wonderful feeling. The time went very, very quickly. It’s difficult to believe that it’s been 50 years. I’ve loved them. However, I know there’s a time. I know there’s a time for everything, and this is my time for retirement,” Bergeron said.
Parents, grandparents, alumni, former students and friends are invited to attend a retirement celebration Wednesday beginning with Mass at 8:30 a.m. at Holy Cross Catholic Church and a reception following until 12:30 p.m. at the Yvonne Anne Adams Life Center on the campus of the school.

By JEAN L. McCORKLE jmccorkle@daily-review.com

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